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The Best Thing
by Sue Gallant

The best thing? I can pick only one? That's not going to be easy. I shall choose my younger brother's visit to my home here on PEI, accompanied by his charming wife and two children.

I left England in 1995 and have not been back since. I have wonderful friends here on PEI but it gets lonely sometimes when most everyone you meet comes from the biggest extended family imaginable. I do not have a mum or a dad, a brother or a sister, an aunt or an uncle close by, during the highs and lows of daily existence. I was pretty excited about my brother's visit.

Bro and co were due to land in Poplar Grove, Western PEI, at suppertime one day early in August. I must have mopped the floors and bleached the toilet three times in as many hours. I could not sit still. It was like waiting for Father Christmas to arrive on Christmas Eve, when I was a child.

The Came family duly arrived, and we shared a wonderful ten days together. My two nephews are six and eight years old, so we did the Rainbow Valley and Sandspit thing. I had honestly forgotten how tiring it can be to have two small children in tow. Who am I kidding? They towed us. My own children are teenagers with driving licences now, and after a week with my brother's children, I have to admit with a weary sigh—I am quite glad mine are older.

I guess I am just getting older. That concrete and unavoidable fact was sure confirmed the evening bro, sister-in-law and I, somehow got onto the topic of retirement. Just when did my little brother and I get this close to an age where retirement issues were suddenly of such import? I thought, whilst bro informed me of pending changes to UK Government retirement legislation.

I still feel like a child inside, but Mum and Dad are both gone now and bro and I have children of our own. We seem to have moved to the top of the pile, but I don't remember how or when that happened. It kind of snuck up on me.

The day of my company's departure inevitably arrived. We hugged, we cried, and I certainly questioned the meaning of my life as they drove away down my long lane. It was a very sad day. I vowed then and there to make a superhuman effort to visit them next time. A wise, senior friend of mine says relationships need to be nurtured. She's right of course. Those children of my brother's will be much changed when hopefully I see them next, in four or five years time. I deliberately made myself very busy for the rest of that day.

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